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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Irish people want Catholicism’s influence to be removed from the Republic

A fascinating new poll conducted by the Irish radio station Newstalk has found that attitudes to Catholicism have shifted significantly since the publication of the Ryan report into child abuse in Catholic-run institutions.

Of the 1,108 people questioned, 51% said they would not welcome a visit to Ireland by the Pope. This stands in stark contrast to the euphoric response the previous Pope received on his visit there in 1979 when practically no opposition was expressed to the visit.

Just 4% of those who responded to the poll said they had actually changed their Mass-going habits since the publication of the Ryan Report, but changing attitudes towards the Catholic Church’s involvement in the day-to-day life of the country are evident in the 70% who said all primary schools should be run by the State.

Just over half (52%) believe religion has no place in schools, as they say religious instruction should only take place outside the classroom, but the majority don’t believe children in school should be exposed to the details of the Ryan Report, with 68% opposing religious teaching incorporating lessons on clerical abuse. The poll was conducted last week, illustrating that feelings about the report are not abating, even a month after publication.

Those in favour of the State taking control of all primary schools made comments such as: “It’s about time that Ireland became a secular state. Theocracy has had its day here” and “The Church can run schools if they want, but they should receive zero funding from the State.”

Meanwhile, the Church is bracing itself for the release of another report within the next few weeks. This one is about the handling of sex-abuse allegations against priests of the Dublin archdiocese.

It is thought the independent report will approach 1,000 pages in length, and will include the names of priests who have faced abuse charges. The report will assess the handling of abuse charges under four past archbishops of Dublin. It may also report on the involvement of more than a dozen bishops who have served as auxiliaries in the Dublin archdiocese.

See also:

Monks & Nuns say Irish Church made them into scapegoats

Civil marriage may overtake church weddings by 2012

Published Fri, 03 Jul 2009